How to Write a Resume

06/07/23 | 7 MIN READ

What Is a Resume?

A resume is a formal document presented to a potential employer that itemizes your qualifications and achievements, which is used for marketing and showcasing the applicant for the job opportunity. When creating a resume, more than one can be created to develop different resumes that effectively highlight the applicant for the advertised job. 

If you are a student looking for an internship, the resume format does not deviate far from a typical resume. In general, a resume for an internship should include the following:

  • Unique Format 
  • Heading
    • Name
    • Contact Information: Number, email address
    • LinkedIn Hyperlinks 
  • Reference Education
  • Relevant Experiences 
    • Work Experience / Previous Internships  
    • Research Experience 
    • Project Experience 
  • Key achievements 
    • Honors/Awards 
    • Certifications 

Choose a Format

Choosing a format is completely up to how the individual chooses to present their work. The value of a format is often underscored, but the format you choose to use should be heavily considered. Choosing a unique format, that professionally introduces yourself, can make all the difference in your resume. By capturing who you are as an individual, your format could be the standing point that differentiates you and makes you memorable to the hiring team. There are 4 main resume formats commonly used that you might consider:

  • Chronological resume
  • Functional resume
  • Combination resume
  • Target resume

Chronological Resume 

The chronological resume is the most common type of resume used by job seekers, especially if you have a consistent working background. If choosing this format you can expect to list your jobs in order. This order will start with the current or most recent position you held and then, in order, the previous ones will follow. When creating this type of resume you should focus on your work history and professional achievements.

Functional Resume

The functional resume is an alternative type of resume and functions more as a broken-down cover letter. This resume is broken up into sections and instead of emphasizing work experience, it emphasizes the skills and accomplishments that were gained or the relevant skillsets you have. With a functional resume, experience is still portrayed but with minimal detail. For this reason, depending on the position you are applying for, a functional resume, may or may not be the best format to default to. The reasoning is that a functional resume focuses more on professional skills than experiences.

Combination Resume

The combination resume can be seen as a hybrid that takes components from both a chronological resume but with a reverse timeline and a functional resume. Placing equal emphasis on both, the combination resume will highlight your skills and your work experience and how they come together. Essentially it will bridge the gap for the job candidate by showing how your professional experience has elevated your skills by implementing what you know or led to you strengthening your knack in your field. Another important aspect of this resume is putting it in reverse chronological order, to show how you have specifically built up your skills and added to your skillset with each new opportunity. 

Target Resume 

The targeted resume is tailored to cater to a specific audience because it targets the job opening that is being applied to. With a target resume, the candidate will write multiple resumes, rewriting and editing their experience and skillset for each job they are applying to. The goal of this resume is to incorporate experiences that are relevant to a particular position and highlight the skills as they are advertised in the qualifications and job expectations section. In a target resume, you want to keep all the same components of a chronological resume, but it will prioritize relevance to the appliance niche industry. If writing this type of resume, it is also helpful to use “buzzer words”. This phrase means using keyword optimization that makes you look appealing to the hiring manager. 

Unique Heading

In a resume, a heading is always needed to identify the person applying for the job and the ability to contact this same individual. In your heading, the format might have color, a different font, or stand out in some way. The heading will always boldly present your name, along with any details that the individual might use to address you or contact you in the future. For example, a resume heading might look as follows: 

First Name, Middle Name, Last Name 

Email | Number | [Insert LinkedIn]

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Reference Education 

After developing your heading, there should be a section preceding that covers your education history. This part of your resume should reference where you received your education or where you are currently enrolled, what degree earned from this institution, your GPA (could be your major GPA or overall), and the year in which you graduated or are expecting to graduate. Also, note for those with multiple degrees, it is good to reference all of them. 

Resúmé Objective

The resume objective is tailored to the job you are applying to. In a resume objective, you are giving a quick introduction statement (2 to 3 sentences) that provides your career intent and goals, along with an insight into why you are the best candidate for the position. This part of the resume is considered optional, however, if you do include one, it should be at the top of your resume. Some thoughts to keep in mind when writing your resume objective is knowing why you are applying for a specific position and what makes you marketable for the position compared to other candidates. A great resume objective should provide the reviewer with more information that cannot necessarily be seen or learned from your reading and your experience and background.

What Is your Relevant Experience? 

Listing your relevant experience is the most crucial element that makes a resume what it is intended to be. It is the DNA that will separate you from the other candidates. When writing your relevant experience you want to begin with the name of the company and your position. By your title, include the years you worked on the task for the company, and below this information a three-bulleted list describing what you accomplished in your role. Your list might look similar to the one below.

Title   Date Range Company Name; Location 

  • Insert three bulleted points describing your key role   

Keep in mind when creating a resume catered to internships, your experience can be broken up into three elements. These elements include

  • Work Experience / Previous Internships 
  • Research Experience 
  • Project Experience 

Only include the categories where you actively held a role. Breaking down each category, work experience, or previous internships should encapsulate how your role made the company successful. You want to emphasize what you accomplished in the time you were with the company and what you gained from your experience. If you are responding to research experience, it is important to be able to communicate your research in a way that caters to the general audience. With research experience, it is important to showcase how you conducted novel research and your ability to tackle individual tasks. As for the project experience, you want to describe your role in making the project successful and how you contributed to an individual or team effort. The general rule is that If you can describe your research or project in 10 words or less that is a great way to highlight your confidence in what you were doing and your communication skills. 

How to Describe Your Experience

Overall, think of your relevant experiences as a one-page story. This story should tell the future employer what expertise you will bring and how you have been successful in your previous roles. Since, employers like to see growth and readiness for the job, hiring managers will look for competency to complete your job given your specific technical knowledge and soft skills. 

The best way to address these skills is to create a bulleted list and approach it using the STAR method. The STAR method will tell your employer what work you have been a part of with adjectives and examples that back up your success. In these bulleted lists, every first word should be an adjective effectively highlighting key accomplishments and milestones. Following these adjectives should be verbs that can accompany your action. Remember to pay attention to adjective usage and do not use more than one adjective in a bullet or the same adjective within the resume.

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Adjectives

The right resume adjectives are powerful because they add detail to your application by helping to describe your skills, experience, and personality creatively. These adjectives also assist prospective employers in understanding where you excel and how you can play a role within their organization. Integrating these words can make your resume intriguing and original which can contribute to increasing your chances of earning a position. Adjectives can be used effectively:

  1. Using the most effective word
  2. Choosing the right word
  3. Combining adjectives with action
  4. Include important details corroborating your adjectives

Adjective Ideas you may consider using can be found below.

  • Created
  • Specialized
  • Experienced
  • Strategic 
  • Expert
  • Developed 

Relevant Skills That Fit the Job Advertisement

After integrating all of your relative experience it is good to highlight your skills, even if some were already mentioned in your descriptions. There are three categories of skills that you can mention. 

  • Knowledge-based 
  • Transferable/Functional
  • Personal Traits

Knowledge-Based

Knowledge-based skill sets will be those that are specific to the occupation. These skills might be computer skills, software abilities, manufacturing methods, teaching, accounting, or managing. These skills can be learned and taught but may take time and more experience. These skills may not be widely known by everyone or may not be valuable to every company. Certain occupations, however, might require a specific level of knowledge for certain positions, and having these skills can make you a strong candidate. 

Transferable/Functional

Transferable skills, functional skills, or portable skills, are the versatility traits that you take with you from one job to another. These skills might entail others describing themselves as being adaptable, a leader, a communicator, or solving unexpected problems. These skills are transferable because it is the ability to take what you gained from your last position and apply it to your new job. These skills can be very apparent or less prioritized as some people do not realize how to transfer their skills from one job to another. Having the ability to recognize these skills and elevate your strengths is a skill in itself. 

Personal Traits

Personal traits reflect the individual's characteristics and patterns. Examples of these personal traits might include punctuality, open-mindedness, or resilience, to name a few. When you share your traits, the employer can gauge insight into who you are. Since your personality can also be apparent on the resume, you are telling the employer more about your consistency and stability. These are all advantages in a resume if you choose to include a personal trait section. 

Key Achievements

Your key achievements mentioned should only be those that are major achievements you have earned within your field. This section will address the awards or honors you have received. The achievements you choose to show should only address those as they relate to your professional position. With key achievements, you can put a single bullet describing what the accomplishment means. In this same section, you can also mention certifications you can offer that might make you stand out as a candidate. If certifications are mentioned, the same logic applies where a single bullet will describe what you did to earn this certificate. 

Resume Do's and Don'ts

Lastly, be aware of the Do’s and Do Nots. With any professional task, there are dos and do not that can either make you memorable in a good way or in a bad way. In any case, the same applies to a professional resume. Whether applying for your first job in a well-known company, a startup, or graduate school this list provides what should be included on a resume and what should be avoided. 

DO

  • Respond to the job description
  • Describe accomplishments
  • Quantify your accomplishments
  • Include numbers and results measuring success
  • Know the difference between professional skills vs expertise 

DO NOT

  • Have grammar errors
  • Ignore irrelevant information
  • Overwrite 
  • Inaccurately present qualifications
  • Exaggerate 
  • Do not describe responsibilities 

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Next Steps

If your resume stood out and were able to have an interview, congratulations, your next step is setting up an interview. You can look great on paper, but remember that you want to show that you can also perform. Preparing for the interview can be just as simple, but is just as important. 

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